Send to

Choose Destination
Lancet. 2009 Jun 27;373(9682):2215-21. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60619-X. Epub 2009 Jun 8.

Trajectories of glycaemia, insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion before diagnosis of type 2 diabetes: an analysis from the Whitehall II study.

Author information

Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.



Little is known about the timing of changes in glucose metabolism before occurrence of type 2 diabetes. We aimed to characterise trajectories of fasting and postload glucose, insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion in individuals who develop type 2 diabetes.


We analysed data from our prospective occupational cohort study (Whitehall II study) of 6538 (71% male and 91% white) British civil servants without diabetes mellitus at baseline. During a median follow-up period of 9.7 years, 505 diabetes cases were diagnosed (49.1% on the basis of oral glucose tolerance test). We assessed retrospective trajectories of fasting and 2-h postload glucose, homoeostasis model assessment (HOMA) insulin sensitivity, and HOMA beta-cell function from up to 13 years before diabetes diagnosis (diabetic group) or at the end of follow-up (non-diabetics).


Multilevel models adjusted for age, sex, and ethnic origin confirmed that all metabolic measures followed linear trends in the group of non-diabetics (10,989 measurements), except for insulin secretion that did not change during follow-up. In the diabetic group (801 measurements), a linear increase in fasting glucose was followed by a steep quadratic increase (from 5.79 mmol/L to 7.40 mmol/L) starting 3 years before diagnosis of diabetes. 2-h postload glucose showed a rapid increase starting 3 years before diagnosis (from 7.60 mmol/L to 11.90 mmol/L), and HOMA insulin sensitivity decreased steeply during the 5 years before diagnosis (to 86.7%). HOMA beta-cell function increased between years 4 and 3 before diagnosis (from 85.0% to 92.6%) and then decreased until diagnosis (to 62.4%).


In this study, we show changes in glucose concentrations, insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion as much as 3-6 years before diagnosis of diabetes. The description of biomarker trajectories leading to diabetes diagnosis could contribute to more-accurate risk prediction models that use repeated measures available for patients through regular check-ups.


Medical Research Council (UK); Economic and Social Research Council (UK); British Heart Foundation (UK); Health and Safety Executive (UK); Department of Health (UK); National Institute of Health (USA); Agency for Health Care Policy Research (USA); the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation (USA); and Academy of Finland (Finland).

Comment in

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center